How to Quit Being a Cog in the Machine and Build Your Own Business

As I see it, there are just two different ways to live your life and develop your career.

  1. Be a cog in a machine
  2. Build your own machine

All through my life I just assumed that I would go work at a single company for 40+ years, save 8% each year, get a pension, and retire at 65 to do what I enjoy. This was “normal” and it seemed to be the American Dream. Even though I got good grades in school and was “street smart”, I can’t help but look back at my younger self and yell, “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”

I went through college with the assumption that working at a good company was the best option financially, professionally, and personally. A steady paycheck and benefits would be all I ever needed. Boy was I wrong.

All Part of Someone Else’s Plan

When someone else employs you and you don’t enjoy the work deep down, you are settling to be a cog in a machine. When you get laid off, you see how dispensable you are to the company.

Even if you stand out and become a linchpin for the organization, you end up just becoming a bigger, more complex cog. The more efficient and productive you become, the more the machine benefits, not you. It could be a pain to find a replacement for you, but even if it took more than one person the company would easily do it.

Half Man, Half Machine

If you set your own rules for living and working, you create the machine. When you put your life’s energy into projects and performance of your own business, you reap the benefits, not the executives on private jets that you never meet.

Instead of just being a single piece of a massive machine, you build the machine from scratch.

You might have a gift for web design (blueprints) and the passion for random knick knacks (fuel), so you develop a website (engine) and sell stacking Russian dolls (widgets). Whatever you see that is an opportunity a business, you can capitalize on it. Your machine becomes a business and your career.

Who is the Boss of Your Life?

Most people that try to talk others into being an entrepreneur start with perks such as “never wake up to an alarm”, “work from home”, or “be your own boss”. Sure, sleeping in is great and never leaving the house may sound like the good life, but the real truth is the last one. When you work for someone else it is like letting the company steer the boat of your life. You can quickly lose control of where you are headed and wander out at sea for forty years.

You get forced into working on projects you aren’t interested in. You have to stay late to cover for lazy or incompetent coworkers. When performance reviews finally come each year you get the same measly raises that everyone else gets. Promotions are limited because you haven’t been at the company for the suggest number of years.

Enough is Enough

Whose to say how much money you can make each year? There are a lot of ways to make money and selling your time in a direct trade of 40 hours a week for a paycheck is one of the worst systems there is.

Look outside the box of the bi-weekly paychecks, the coffee funds, and the retirement parties with cake.

How can you start to earn side income? Can you turn that into a career? Can you escape your corporate grind before you’re stuck for good?

Don’t be so scared of the word entrepreneur. You probably didn’t know of the word when you ran your first lemonade stand, but remember how liberated you felt with the cup filled with quarters and dollar bills? You earned that money.

Do you feel the same way about the paycheck you get from your day job? Does it seem like you earned the money or that you just put in your time.

Do me a favor and think about how you can earn just one dollar outside of your regular job. Take something you already know how to do or are passionate about and think about how you can monetize it.

Check out Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You to Be Rich or MJ Demarco’s Millionaire Fastlane for inspiration.

The first dollar you earn on the side is the first major milestone towards building your own business machine. Doesn’t that sound way better than a life based on someone else’s terms?